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SPiN | My favorite new place for ping pong and art

October 10, 2010

Earlier this summer I took on a rather unusual commission courtesy of my friend Nairn Olker, recently of Engberg Anderson Design Partnership and founding partner in Alloy Photography. He and his team at EA were designing a space for an equally unusual client – SPiN Milwaukee. In case you haven’t heard, SPiN is a new ping-pong club, restaurant and bar franchise opened by two Milwaukeeans and promoted by Susan Sarandon, among others. Fortunately for me it’s located half a block from my front door and promises to be my spot for many awkwardly sporty, but super fun evenings to come. In the end I completed multiple commissions for SPiN and while I think the only way to really appreciate the work is to go play in the space, I’ll attempt to explain what I did here for your blog viewing pleasure.

The work: 8 larger than life fabric wrapped panels depicting images of a ping pong game occurring  on a city roof top.  How we did it: Nairn and I assembled a small army of friends and spouses to lug a really nice table and crazy amounts of lights, reflectors and gear up to the accessible roof of the Blatz Condos. The straight-out-of-the-camera image above served as my template for what we wanted to do: capture the speed and movement of a ping pong game in the glow of city lights. I used my flash as a strobe in the picture above but for the finals I would assemble and enhance real light trails and create a few myself. The final images were printed on an accoustical fabric produced by the magicians at Designtex and hung on the west wall of the playing space at SPiN. You seriously have to see how cool these look in person.


light trails created by dragging the shutter and using my flash as a strobe



A graphic elevation used to mockup the final images



The final panels in place on the west wall of the court; they're huge!



Looking across the "courts" at the grand opening to the panels on the far west wall.


Another fun photographic pop art folly that SPiN offers visitors is a series of faux-paintings on fabric panels at the entry. When you walk in the doors look up, those “paintings” are based on photographs I took of real ping pong devotees and members of the Shorewood Table Tennis Club. The club transforms a school gym in Shorewood into a mass tournament on a weekly basis. I had the complete pleasure of photographing 9 sweet, funny and talented players using my Photobooth! setup. 4 of the images were then sent off to Todd Oldham Studio in New York for transformation. I took a few quick snaps of them, the scene and Ms. Sarandon herself at SPiN during the grand opening a week or so ago.

Yes, That’s a model emcee calling the event. SPiN has quite a sense of humor. If you are ever in the neighborhood feel free to challenge me to a match surrounded by exciting architecture and art.



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